Essays/ Travelogues/ Poetry/ Ramblings · Introduction

Chronicles of an ongoing battle between solipsism and empiricism

On one hand there is a real physical world out there with objects that we can see, hear, touch, perceive. Living entities are the most intriguing of them all- we can talk to them, we can listen to them, we can play with them, we can fight with them, we can build relationships with them.

On the other hand there is the mental world- the world of thoughts, emotions, ideas and dreams. Mathematics, philosophy, music, painting etc. are major manifestations of this mental world. They often give us a glimpse of the existence of an abstract world beyond the physical world we live in – the abstract world nearing to have a physical existence of its own, defying the word “abstract”.

We live in the physical world, with mountains, rivers, trees, animals, houses, roads, cars, schools, colleges, hospitals etc. but often we encounter bridges to the abstract world like the 9 3/4-th platform in Harry Potter’s stories. These bridges range from critically acclaimed works of art like Claude Monet’s paintings, John Keats’s poetry, Amir Khusrao’s and Sahir Ludhianvi’s lyrics and Plato’s dialogues to myriads of events we experience in pop culture- Sachin Tendulkar’s cover drives on TV, Ultimate Warrior’s crazy promos before Wrestlemania, Rick and Morty’s trippy episodes to name a few. In this blog I shall try to explore several of these bridges between the physical and the mental worlds in a methodical fashion . At the core of all my posts recurs a constant struggle between two conflicting ideas- the idea of realism/ empiricism/ materialism, i.e., this world exists as it is independent of us and we are perceiving it through our sensory organs and modifying it through our motor organs, and the solipsism, i.e. there is nothing real in this world outside our mind, all our friends, family, jobs don’t really exist, they are just impressions in our mind and this world is nothing but a simulation.

I have used the existing terminology in academic “philosophy” very freely here and in my other posts partly due to my my academic background in science as opposed to philosophy and partly due to my little lack of reverence for existing academic “philosophy” to explore philosophical themes. Academic “philosophy” explores philosophical themes only through words, crafted in a meticulous fashion. But in my humble opinion, the same themes can be captured only if the words are backed by actions in day to day life giving the appropriate context to those words, e.g. how we talk to our colleagues, how we interact with our friends, how invested we are in our romances, are as important as scholarly articles in understanding philosophy.  As Kabir says,

“Labzo se hum khel rahe hai, maana haat na aaye,

Paani paani rat te rat te pyaasa hi raha jaaye

Shola shola rat te rat te lab par aanch na aaye

Ek chingari lab par rakh lo, lab turant jal jaaye”

(We are playing with words, but we don’t understand the meaning. We keep chanting “water” but we stay thirsty. We keep chanting “fire” but we don’t feel anything on our lips, but the moment we put a flame on our lips,  our lips burn).

Growing up in a society full of friends, family, classes, jobs, degrees and honors it is very hard to perceive the possibility of the existence of a world beyond the physical. But life experiences can be such (getting immersed in music or painting, a feeling of extreme pain or cornucopia of joy in love, an emptiness through isolation from society in a new country or job) that the existence of the abstract world not only becomes conceivable but can even take over the existence of the physical world in one’s consciousness. There are thoughts going on in our head and we translate only a few of the thoughts into action. In mathematical language, it is a many to one mapping from the mental world to the physical world. In extraordinary circumstances like solitude, it is often hard to distinguish the world of thoughts from the world of action because there are too many thoughts and too few actions. The lack of onlookers to verify the reality perceived through our senses adds to it. Our consciousness is largely collective after all, a lot of the common sense we use for our day to day actions is imbibed by us from society through collective wisdom. With lack of people, the collective wisdom may start fading.

And with it, often comes lurking forward the fear of death, an event probably absolute in an otherwise conflicting world of ideas and arguments and events where probably every argument can be countered by another argument. Though I shall attempt to make my posts in this blog be as drenched in bright sunshine as possible, somewhat like Ruskin Bond’s writing, I cannot guarantee that death won’t expose its dark face here and there in the posts.

My posts will be broadly in the following categories:

i. Short stories

ii. Essays/ Travelogues/ Poetry/Rambling

iii. Golden Era of Bollywood (50s and 60s)

iv. Professional wrestling

v. Calcutta Corner

vi. Science

 

I shall add more categories with time, e.g. Impressionist art, Sufi poetry, sci-fi TV shows etc. with time.

Please check out the posts, thanks for visiting the site.

 

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Science · Short stories

The mind-matter dilemma

“Hey, are you gonna be here longer? Then I won’t lock the door now.”

John asked Ary as he was about to leave the laboratory for the day. Ary didn’t know why he asked the same question to Ary every evening. Though he certainly wasn’t the first person to get into the lab everyday, he almost always was the last person to leave. He worked till late hours of the night while most others would hang out with their friends and families, attend parties or simply go to bed early to have an early start for the next day.

Ary’s eyes were on the computer screen, as the tip of the microscope scanned the surface of the last thin film he grew.

“Hey Ary, will you lock the door?”, John asked again not getting an answer from Ary.

Of course I would. I am a poor Indian grad student living in a foreign land. I have no life. I have no girlfriend- Ary told himself.

But then to his own surprise, he said, “No, I think I am done for the day. I shall leave with you. Lock the door”.

Ary packed his backpack, left the computer to direct by itself  the motion of the tip of the microscope over his dearest thin film sample, and got out of the lab, located in the basement of Hearst Memorial Hall, the oldest building on the University of California Berkeley campus. Outside it was dark already. It was the end of November. Days had already become very short in this part of the globe.

Ary hated this part of the year the most. It had been more than two years since he had moved to California from Calcutta for his PhD. He would go home every winter during the Christmas break and come back quite refreshed to resume research. So during this time of the year, with days too short and nights too long for a guy from lower latitudes like Ary and Christmas still a month away, he would feel exhausted and depressed after swimming with the sharks in a highly aggressive and competitive research environment of one of the top graduate schools in US for an entire year, and longed for the peace and warmth of his sweet home in Calcutta.

Ary paced across the campus briskly in the dark and reached the University Avenue, which started from the west end of the campus, pierced through the heart of the city of Berkeley which was rather somewhat between a college town and a full blown city and ended at the Berkeley Marina, which overlooked the bay that connected with the Pacific Ocean. Ary wondered where to go for dinner. He didn’t want to cook the same marinara pasta at home again. He called up Diggy, a fellow grad student from India and one of his closest friends in Berkeley, to check his availability for dinner. Diggy, as expected, didn’t pick up the phone. Ary followed the University Avenue to the downtown area, passed the dingy McDonalds restaurant frequented by homeless people and walked into Bobby G’s Pizzeria- a sports bar with some good pizza.

Ary sat at the bar and waited for his pizza. The “football” game on TV didn’t register in his head at all. He never really understood the rules nor he knew any of the teams or the players. He kept thinking about the results of his experiments or lack thereof, his withering interest in the topic of his research and the apparent lack of direction in his research work- an activity which occupied most of his time for the last two years.

Just when his pepperoni pizza arrived, another fellow grad student, Steve Lambson, hopped in and sat next to him. Ary had talked to Steve a few times in the graduate social hour, but he didn’t really know much about him other than that his name was Steve Lambson, he was a second year PhD student in Civil Engineering and he was from Minnesota.

“You eat meat?”, asked Steve, “I thought Indians don’t”.

Ohh, another conversation aimed at dispelling misconceptions about Indians’ food habits, which won’t serve its purpose! – Ary told himself.

Ary didn’t feel like talking. For a while he had observed a pattern about himself. His inclination to interact with people outside the Indian graduate student community used to be very high when he wasn’t occupied with research. But after he spent a few days immersed in research, he only wanted to talk to his fellow Indian grad students. The current conversation with Steve would possibly continue along the lines of Indian culture, which Ary was tired talking about after spending two years in Berkeley. The conversation could also take an alternate trajectory where Ary would talk about his own research and Steve would talk about his, with neither person understanding anything about the other person’s research. Neither trajectory appeared promising to Ary, but he was too polite in this foreign land to not continue the conversation.

Though the conversation took the well-trodden second trajectory, Ary was pleasantly surprised to identify that he was actually able to follow Steve’s research. In fact, he started liking it. To make it more intriguing, Steve also mentioned that there was an opening for a new PhD student in his project. Steve was deploying wireless sensors in the Sierra Nevada basin to detect the occurrence of landslides. Though the technical aspect of the project sounded interesting, what really captured Ary’s imagination was the location of the project- instead of spending all his time working on thin films in a basement of a Berkeley building he would do laboratory work out there in nature, amidst the majestic Sierras. Ary had driven to Yosemite Valley that summer with some fellow Indian grad students and was mesmerized by the Sierras. Though he had visited several hill stations in the Himalayas with his parents back in childhood, he felt that the beauty of the Sierras wasn’t comparable to any other mountain he had seen before. He wasn’t sure why he felt so. He meticulously photographed the looming granite structures, the serene lakes, the tall redwoods and the beautiful chapels with his newly bought DSLR and wanted to go there again soon to pursue his passion in photography further. Now he was probably provided with the perfect opportunity to combine his work and his passion.

For a long time he knew that he loved Physics. That’s why he was working all day in a laboratory trying to find a phase boundary in a ferroelectric thin film, which nobody had observed before. But of late he loved photography and nature and nature photography so much more. This was his chance to stop being an Indian nerd and become cool like an American. Ary walked home that night, confused but excited. However when he jumped into the twin sized bed of his small studio apartment in downtown Berkeley, for which he paid a rent half his monthly stipend, he was too tired from the day’s work and inebriated from the beer at Bobby G’s to think further and slept immediately…

Professional Wrestling · Short stories

The big red monster

The whole arena turned red, a creepy music hit, a big monster showed up wearing a mask, he waved his hand and there was fire all about the ring, the twenty thousand people in the audience screamed in excitement and awe…..

“Kane! Kane! It’s his brother Kane!”, Ary kept screaming, lying on his bed and throwing punches in the air. His mom hastily walked into his bedroom and pushed him out of bed, “Get up! It’s past 8 AM, get ready for school, how much more are you gonna sleep, and stop watching that stuff”, his mother said, and rushed back again to the kitchen. She had to stir the fish curry one last time while all the water would evaporate leaving behind the fish, the potatoes and the spices delightfully blended together. Ary’s dad, who was packing his briefcase in the living room, would eat the fish curry with rice before going to office. “Have you seen your own physique, Ary? How can a guy like you be interested in such hooligan stuff!”, his dad yelled at Ary, as Ary got out of his bedroom and walked towards the sink in front of the bathroom. Unrest and tension were always at its peak during this time of the day in their moderately sized third floor apartment in the southern suburbs of Calcutta, with an impatient and worldly adult running around the house looking frantically for the shaving brush, the comb, the handkerchief and the green tube of “Borolin” cream on his way to office, and a lazy and unworldly kid being rushed by his mom at every step on his way to school.

As Ary stood at the sink holding the toothbrush motionless inside his mouth and staring at the mirror in his front, he tried to remember the face he saw in his dream last night that made him scream- a big masked face, long hair, similar to the monster who broke into the steel cage and “tombstoned” the Undertaker last night on TV. Just that the color of the mask wasn’t red in the dream. It was rather kind of dark grey. He never dreamt in colors, he had noticed. The world of his dreams was like the world of his big fat pet cat Obelix even when she was awake- black and white. Cats don’t have cones in their eyes, his school teacher had mentioned a few days back. He had been looking at Obelix with more amazement since he picked up that information. “Mom, mom, she’s seeing everything in black and white!”, he would scream every time Obelix showed up in the living room and greeted everyone with her customary “meaow”.

“Again you are simply standing out there holding the toothbrush! Why can’t you just do things in time.”

Ary never understood what “doing things” exactly meant. He was good at studies but that was simply because he loved spending time with books and learning new things and hardly forgot what he learned. But all these other things- brushing teeth, taking shower, eating food- he hardly ever found any purpose in them. Every now and then he would get lost in his own world, or rather one of the multiple worlds he had created inside his head over the years.  The world of professional wrestling was one of the recent ones. His father had just subscribed for cable television in their house, one of the first ones to do so in their middle-class neighborhood, much against the wish of his mom who thought it would adversely affect Ary’s studies. Ever since then, Ary had gotten addicted to watching World Wrestling Federation (WWF) shows once back from school. Yesterday was a Sunday and fighting against fierce opposition from his dad he managed to watch the match between Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker inside a fifteen feet high steel cage.

Ary walked into the bathroom and locked the door from inside for a shower. Finally his imagination could flow seamlessly, unobstructed by instructions from rest of the world. Ary imagined a square ring with tight ropes surrounded by a raucous American crowd about whom he knew very little barring their love for wrestling. Shawn Michaels entered the arena to a massive cheer and there he was next to Shawn Michaels as his best friend. He didn’t call himself Triple H. He called himself Penta X. He wasn’t really very sure how Penta X looked. He knew that Penta X wasn’t a giant like Undertaker or Kane. He was of medium height and slim and extremely agile, kinda like Shawn Michaels, but his face resembled Ary’s. He came out to a song that sounded like “Run miles, run miles….”.Together Shawn and he were ready to take on anyone- a dead man from Death Valley, California, a deranged maniac from some random broiler room, a giant sumo wrestler from Japan- just name it!! But who was that big red monster? What was there behind that scary mask? Could he actually walk through fire? Would they be able to take him down?

Just as Penta X was about to take on the red monster, mom screamed, “Ary!! You are in the bathroom for the last ten minutes and I haven’t heard a single splash!! What are you doing out there? It’s 9:30 AM. Everyday, it’s the same story”, a combination of anger and helplessness in the tone. Ary stopped the match before the bell rang, decided to resume it once back from school and grabbed the mug to fill it up with water from the bucket and begin the “shower”…….

Calcutta Corner

Durga Puja, 2017

I don’t think any festival is celebrated in any part of the world the way Durga Puja is celebrated in Bengal, particularly Calcutta. The celebration of the arrival of Goddess Durga from her abode in Mount Kailash to our homes in Bengal is not merely restricted to a certain religion or group in the city. Though chanting of  stotras in reverence of the goddess, fasting and worship of the goddess’s idol form an integral aspect of the puja, they are far from being the only aspects of it. Rather Durga Puja encompasses all aspects of culture- art, literature, music, movies, etc. with preparations for pandal decorations beginning in the city almost a year ahead of the puja, craftsmen coming from remote parts of Bengal to the capital to display their trade and earn a living, literature being published at its finest in esteemed Bengali magazines like Desh and Anandamela a few months prior to the puja, new “commercial” and “art” movies being released at the theaters a few weeks before the puja and the city dressing up with meticulously crafted pandals, housing both traditional and modern sculptures of the divine, at almost every corner for the four days of the actual festival.

Though Durga Puja in Calcutta had been an integral part of my childhood and college days I haven’t been in the city or the country during the puja for the last seven years, so Durga Puja 2017 was really special to me. Here are a few photographs and short reviews of some pandals I visited, some new novels and stories I read in Desh and Anandamela and some new Bengali movies I watched at the theaters during this year’s puja.

Pandals/ Street Art: 

There is street art at almost every corner of the city during the four days of the puja, in the form of puja pandals. I visited some pandals both in North and South Calcutta this time, the decorations and Durga idols of which ranged from traditional to modern (“theme pujas”). Here are some photographs I took of the pandals I liked the most with brief descriptions of each.

Best idol:

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The iconic Durga idol of Bagbazaar Sarbojonin on the left- every year it’s a newly made idol but it is exactly the same as last year’s. Some things in life don’t change!!
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Durga idol of Chetla Agrani club sculpted in mahogany wood
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Mesmerizing idol of the divine in all her tranquility at Shibmandir Sarbojonin

Best exterior decoration: 

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Thailand’s White Temple, mimicked at Deshpriya Park, dazzling in white light.
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Colorfully decked bird’s nest at Jodhpur Park.

 

Best interior decorations:

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A musical performance at Kasi Bose Lane
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Nalini Sarkar Street (Real houses on both sides of a typical narrow lane of North Calcutta become a part of the puja pandal)
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Colorful interiors at Selimpur Pally
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A regal atmosphere at Mudiali Club. The background music beautifully added to the interior decorations.

Best lighting: 

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Ekdalia Evergreen’s street lighting as gorgeous as ever.

 

Literature:

I read this year’s Pujabarshiki (Puja edition) Anandamela (most popular magazine for new Bengali teenage fiction) in its entirety and am still reading this year’s Sarodiya (Puja edition) Desh (most popular magazine for new Bengali fiction) and Anandabazaar Patrika . So I shall update this section of the post again later. For now, these are the novels/ short stories I really liked.

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Nihsabda Mrityu (Silent Death) by Sukanta Gangyopadhyay (teenage detective novel):

A very popular opinion currently in Calcutta is that Bengali literature, particularly children/ teen’s literature, is in decay. It is not hard to buy the prevalent opinion given the demise of Satyajit Ray (creator of Feluda) and Sunil Ganguly (creator of Kakababu) and aging of Sirshendu Ganguly (creator of the “Odbhuture”  series) and Samaresh Majumdar (creator of Arjun). However one detective/ adventure series that stands out in today’s teenage literature is Sukanta Ganguly’s “Dipkaku” series. It probably started about a decade back in Pujabarshiki Anandamela and I had always liked it. This year’s Dipkaku novel was no exception. The plot was quite intriguing, innovative and unpredictable. I know my opinion would raise many eyebrows but I would still go on to state that Dipkaku is the best sleuth that Bengali fiction has produced after Byomkesh and Feluda. Kakababu and Arjun, despite their popularity, were never really detectives. Their stories were mostly adventures with very few elements of puzzle solving characteristic of a typical detective story. Things just happened in those stories- the villain revealed himself to Kakababu and Arjun at some point, they didn’t really follow clues to reach the villain.  On the other hand, Sukanta Ganguly’s Dipkaku series is a textbook example of detective fiction, with the detective Dipkaku following each and every clue at the crime scene to get to the villain. It is probably time to lift Dipkaku from the not so read pages of Anandamela to the silver screen for next year’s Puja season.

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 Tuatara by Debashish Bandyopadhyay (teenage adventure novel)

My first impression of this novel is that it is extremely dense. That’s probably a good thing particularly because the setting of the novel is also a very dense forest in the Garo Hills of north-east India. Not only is this short novel full of facts about the geography and folklore of Garo hills which were unknown to me before but also it is jam packed with action. I often turned back the pages to keep track of all that was going on.

Passages to the abstract world, of which I talked about in the introduction post of my blog, are present here in abundance disguised as tales in Garo folk lore. However keeping in mind the young audience or probably out of his own lack of interest about the abstract realm, the author did not let the readers indulge themselves in those mind altering trajectories. The monologue and actions of the main villain deep inside the cave towards the ending of the novel were still too violent and trippy for the teenage readers but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

One issue I had with the novel was that the story of the bad guy killing his twin brother and taking his place had been repeated too many times in Bengali teenage fiction, making the plot quite predictable. Satyajit Ray’s Feluda short story “Kailash Chowdhurir Pathar” had that plot and so did a Suchitra Bhattacharya’s Mitin Mashi novel, published a few  years ago in Anandamela (forgot its name, the setting of the novel was the Sundarbans).

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Loukik (Real) by Samaresh Majumdar (short story)

With Samaresh Majumdar being a veteran Bengali writer who mostly wrote about relationships and political activism in his novels, I did not anticipate this short story to be surreal at all when I started reading it. But to my surprise, it turned out to be an extremely well written surreal story of cops visiting a woman’s apartment and never getting out. The passage to the abstract world is present in full form in this short story that lasts only a few pages. Hats off to the writer and Bengali literary culture in general for this hidden gem!

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Tarabhora Akasher Niche (Under a starry sky) by Srijato

This novel by Srijato tells the stories of Vincent VanGogh and a schizophrenia patient in modern day Calcutta in parallel. This novel is all about passages to the abstract world and probably speaks volumes about the facts that Bengali surrealist literature is not far behind international surrealist literature like Murukami Haruki. However, along with acknowledging the presence of passages to the abstract world in the Introduction post of my blog, I also mentioned that I shall keep my future posts lighter. Staying true to that promise, I won’t talk about this novel further here. Please grab this year’s Sarodiya  Anandabazar Patrika to read this novel.

Talking of light posts, the cover page of this year’s Pujabarshiki Anandamela deserves a special mention. I scratched my head for quite some time to figure out why there is an elephant in the picture given that the elephant is not the vahana of any of Durga’s family members. Wonder what staying away from Calcutta for seven years, doing a PhD and indulging too much in the trajectories to the abstract world does to your head!!!

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Movies

Kakababur Obhijaan, directed by Srijit Mukherji

Srijit Mukherji’s movies have apparently become an integral part of Bengali’s Durga Puja celebrations. Every year he makes one movie and releases it the week before Puja. This year he made his second Kakababu movie. It is based on the novel “Paharchuray Atonko”, which I read in a month long high school break between the end of final examination of fifth grade and start of classes of sixth grade. Nothing much happens in the first half of the novel- only Kakababu and Santu sitting in a dome on the top of an extremely tall mountain in the Himalayan range in freezing cold and making observations connected to the giant teeth of a mysterious animal often called the Yeti. Then suddenly in the middle of the novel Santu (or probably Kakababu) falls through a fissure and then the plot takes a sharp turn. The rest of the novel is jam-packed with action. As a kid, I loved that slow build up to that sudden twist and gave the novel several reads as a result.

The same thing is repeated in the movie much to my delight- the first half is pretty uneventful and the second half is jam-packed with action. The movie can be watched just for the sake of Aryan Bhowmik, playing the role of Santu. Equipped with amazingly good looks, martial arts skills (he is extremely comfortable in the fight scenes because he actually knows karate), dance skills (he is also a good dancer in real life but there was no scope to exhibit those skills yet in Srijit’s Kakababu series) and decent acting skills, he is certainly the next Tollywood megastar in the making.

The most memorable part of the movie for me is the theme song. The lines “Dur Digonte Prosno Hajar, Mati te pa tai porlo Rajar” have stayed with me even after I left the theater. Unless you read a lot of Kakababu in childhood you would probably not get why those lines are so special, or why is even there a mention of Raja (king) in a movie with urban middle-class protagonists.

 

Essays/ Travelogues/ Poetry/ Ramblings

Life as a neural engineering problem: Nov 30, 2016

(This essay was composed at the conclusion of my six and a half years of stay in Berkeley, California, where I was pursuing my doctoral degree. In this essay I tried to write down the guiding principles that can be used to explain the events that happened in my personal life in Berkeley and make inferences about life in general.)

I am trying to describe the world we live in. In order to do that, I first make a very important distinction- distinction between the physical world and the mental world. Of course they are connected but we can still separate the two. What is the basis of the separation?

From an experiential point of view it does not matter to us directly why things happen a certain way in the physical world, but why things happen a certain way in the mental world matters to us. “Us” is very important here because we, humans, are coming up with all these ideas. From an impersonal/ scientific point of view, activity of individual neurons and its collective behavior separates the mental world from physical world.

Relevant questions in the physical world- What is the origin of the universe? What is matter? How does matter behave at different length scales? How do different materials interact with each other? Answers to these questions don’t affect our well being. So we can look for truth with respect to these questions without caring about our happiness.

But answers to questions that involve the mental world affect our happiness. For example, what is the origin of life? Does mind emerge from matter? Is there a higher power? Does that power control our lives? While answering these questions we are biased towards finding answers that make us happy. Human beings are the truth seekers and the truth which is sought after cannot be separated from the happiness of the seeker. All the arguments that I provide here follow from mere acceptance of this fact. We have to accept this fact based on our experience, which is empirical evidence.

If we accept this then truth, with respect to the mental world, largely consists of what we need to know to make us happy. Now because we have to sustain ourselves we don’t want to be happy over a short term- we want long, term happiness. Hence my guess is that the ultimate truth is something the knowledge of what gives us happiness over an infinite stretch of time. This state of eternal happiness is often described as nirvana or mokhsha in ancient Indian scriptures.

Thus I have reduced ultimate truth to what makes us eternally happy. Now let us look at what happiness is. The world “happiness” does not mean anything unless we can clearly associate a mental state, or neural activity inside our brain, with it. This brings us to a little bit of discussion of human anatomy. I will do this at a very functional level.

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The schematic above shows how a single individual interacts with the world around them and what they feel internally. Thus the mental world of others reduces to physical world for that individual because no way they can directly interact with the neural activity inside other person’s head, they can only get clues from the physical world about what goes on in other people’s mental world. The individual interacts with the physical world through their senses which are eyes, ears, nose, tongue, skin and genitals. Their mind sends signals to the physical world through the senses and receives the signal from the senses. However, the final thing that the mind receives is simply not just the signal from the physical world coming from the senses. That signal is conditioned by hormones secreted by the body and also conditioned by memories, which are past associations in the brain about previous signals that have come to the mind, and then the mind receives it. This final signal can create two states in the mind, one is happiness and the other is sadness. They are both essentially neural responses to the signal. Now as individuals we want to keep getting the “happiness” signal and not get the “sadness” signal. This paper claims that this is the ultimate truth. Rest of the paper is about how to the neural response called “happiness” can be continuously generated in the mind for time stretched to infinity or in other words how we can be eternally happy.

The easiest way is to keep interacting with the world through our senses in a way that we keep getting the signal that makes us happy. But this method stops acting beyond a point for two reasons:
1. The physical world around us changes. The signal that we are receiving that makes us happy can abruptly end some day. Say, I like a particular kind of food from a restaurant. The restaurant may shut down. (sense involved- tongue). I like physical intimacy with a certain girl (All senses are involved and hormones condition the signals the senses receive). But the girl may choose to get out of my life. Thus in these cases the neural response of happiness decays making us sad, which we don’t want.
2. If a certain signal makes us happy and we are continuously receiving it, it is gradually getting conditioned by the associations formed in our brain (memories) in such a way that eventually the signal stops generating the neural response of happiness. We have all experienced that doing the same act over and over again spoils the fun associated with it at some point.

So what is the solution to this? We have to find ways to be happy with reduced dependence on the senses and finally have zero dependence on the senses. That is the ultimate bliss state. Even if we don’t get all the way, we can get to a state where we are happy over a long period of time if not infinite, and even that is getting closer to the ultimate truth by our definition.

So how to get there? There are broadly three paths laid out in the ancient Indian scriptures. All these paths reduce our dependence on the senses to be happy and hence are effective to take us to the bliss state.

1. Karma Yoga- Karma means work. We need to work to make a living. In addition, if we take our work seriously and are able to contribute to society, seeing other people enjoy the benefits of our own work makes us happy. This happiness depends on more than enjoyment of the senses. The cause of the happiness is contribution of our work to society, which realistically cannot go away as fast as some source of pleasure of the senses can.

2. Bhakti Yoga- Bhakti means devotion, a special kind of love. The word “love” is thrown around everywhere in the English language and thus activities which are physically very different and are done with very different purposes are all termed “love”. \textit{Bhakti} is the kind of love, which makes us less dependent on the senses and takes us to the bliss state.
Usually we love people with the expectation of rewards. The rewards are satisfaction of the senses, sometimes in a direct way like lust in the case of romantic love, or indirect way like financial support also in the case of romantic love or love between parents and children. If the reward keeps coming we love more and we feel more happy, but if the reward stops coming we end up being sad.
But if we can love without caring for the reward then we will be happy perpetually. The concept of divinity in the Bhakti tradition of India comes as an extension of this concept. We love the people around us for various reasons. Once we see the effectiveness of loving without caring for rewards then we can create an image inside our head. We love that image unconditionally. That image is divinity.

3. Gyana Yoga- Gyana means knowledge. Gaining knowledge can make us eternally happy because we learn what our senses are, how we interact with the world through them and how they control our happiness. So extending that knowledge we learn how to not let the senses control our happiness, which is the point of this paper. Hence this paper itself is a lesson in Gyana Yoga.
Meditation is an important part of Gyana Yoga. In meditation we observe our senses, our body processes, our thoughts and we often let our mind generate the neural response of happiness based on very simple elementary signals from the senses, like some hymn, some melody or even the sound “Om”. Thus we are learning to be happy with reduced dependence on the senses. We also learn that thoughts can give us a lot of pain. Thoughts are essentially signals received from the senses or lack of signals received from the senses, conditioned by our mental associations or memories (Schematic 1). In daily existence an individual thinks that they are their thoughts but through meditation one can get to a thoughtless state and see their existence beyond the thoughts, which is often termed the “self”. By doing meditation one can thus learn how to be happy by going beyond the senses and becoming the “self”. By repeating it on a daily basis, one can thus achieve eternal bliss or Mokhsa or Nirvana.

Thus in this essay I have argued that pursuit of eternal happiness largely constitutes truth, as far as the mental world is concerned. Then I have stated methods to achieve eternal happiness and argued why they would be effective. Essentially, this whole practice described here, which may be called spirituality, is engineering our neurons in the body such that the neural response of happiness is generated perpetually irrespective of external circumstances. Since our knowledge of the anatomy and functioning of the body, and particularly the brain, is very limited, we carry out this engineering empirically. Life experiences are the experimental data here. This neural engineering to achieve a perpetual state of happiness is the very essence of life. The method to attain that state will just evolve over time as we experience more and more in life.

(Endnote: Between the time of this composition and the time of uploading it here, my understanding of this subject has evolved a little bit. I feel that my observations here are too much centered around the happiness of an individual, often in exclusion of one’s family and friends. Over the last several months, my preference has slowly shifted towards collective happiness of the society we live in because I have started believing that an individual’s happiness largely depends on keeping everyone around happy, which is the subject of some of my other posts.) 

 

 

Essays/ Travelogues/ Poetry/ Ramblings

Solitude,collective wisdom, world of thoughts, fear of death, the divine female and many-body interactions: July 7, 2017

(Written after about spending eight months by myself at my new workplace in an altogether new city, where I knew no one when I moved in)

Writing this essay after a solitary dinner at guest house on a Friday evening and a walk back to the house with a minor trip while crossing the road, lights of car coming towards me in the dark, I am standing on the pavement with mind flooded with thoughts, I didn’t cross the road,just standing on the pavement, I would focus on the road before I cross, but what if I forgot to do so and just step in front of the car? Fear of death lol.

This fear of death is most prominent when I am by myself and I am unmindful. The deeper the thought in the head, the stronger is the fear of death on the awareness of the existence of a potential cause of death in the vicinity. The potential cause of death that I can envision can largely be categorized into three types:

i. fear of heights: The staircases in the buildings in IIT barely have any rails and they go all the way up to the 7th floor. You slip off the side and you fall through a few floors- spot dead. Such lack of safety can be barely thought of in the US, but hell, this is India!

ii. fear of cars: I have crossed a main road in Delhi not more than three of four times since I got here. I mostly walk inside campus, where the traffic is much less but I still don’t completely trust these cars.

iii. fear of small objects: The craziest fear, small objects are everywhere, what if I swallow something! I have gotten rid of small objects as much as possible in the house and the office but one cannot avoid them completely altogether, this gives me the most frequent death trips of the three.

Apart from these there are minor fears like fear of dogs, fear of a sharp object like the tip of the pen hitting the eye, fear of knives etc.

But these are the details of the fears, but philosophically what I have learned from the fears is as follows:

i. Solitude definitely intensifies these fears and there is a good reason for it. Most things we do in our lives  One weekend a while ago, it was crazy hot outside, and I spent the entire weekend by myself in the house and then Sunday late at night as I felt very sleepy and I was taking off the ring before going to sleep, I thought why not try swallow the ring and see what happens, and then I stopped myself from doing so and felt so scared. And then finally it dawned upon me- why is being alone scary, even if you have tons of work and hobbies and you thoroughly enjoy them and your are happy being alone it still gets scary. That’s because in our daily life we do a lot of things and do not do a lot of things simply based on collective wisdom. My own consciousness is actually a collective consciousness that I have developed through interaction with society. For example, why don’t I put small objects in my mouth and swallow them? Have I done it before and seen what happens? No, I have learned from others like my parents when I was a kid that it is dangerous thing to do and so I do not do it, and later I have reconciled that knowledge with science. Now if humans start disappearing from my life, that collective wisdom slowly goes away and the chances of doing things that can threaten my life go up and hence death trips go up.

ii. Thoughts have the world of their own, and that world is connected with the physical world we live in. Plato has this theory of forms- all virtues have some kinda real forms in an ideal world, and our present world is a shadow of that or something. Kinda sounds similar to our reciprocal space idea right? Somebody may dismiss this whole thing saying that essentially neurons in this physical world are firing in some weird sequences giving you this kinda impression, but the thing is there is a remarkable amount of consistency in the way my neurons fire, your neurons fire and Plato’s neurons fired which makes me more and more convinced of an actual existence of this world of thoughts. I am trying to get into more math of late, as I am teaching this magnetism course and often tapping into this other world. I guess my physical space is very limited now, this less than one mile of campus is my entire physical world, and my thoughts are running wild all over the place- magnetism, quantum mechanics, statistical mechanics, neural networks, Socratic dialogues, current affairs published in The Hindu, etc. And my mind is moving freely through all these domains totally becoming what it is looking into, and then suddenly there is an interaction with the physical world where the mind identifies a potential cause of death, and the death strip starts, like tonight, the bright yellow lights of the car in the dark racing down…..

Spent four days and four nights straight with the divine female, beautiful body, amazing form, but it feels so forced and repetitive if I am not fascinated by the mind behind the body, it almost becomes like watching pornography and masturbating, lol.

It just helps with two things : satisfies lust, and reduces the fear of death by eliminating solitude and keeping me connected to the physical world instead of letting me float in the world of thoughts. And with age, these two things will get worse and worse. But is a commitment to spend my entire life with one person worth it only because of these two things? I am not sure.

Last thing, these days I am taking interest in current affairs, cricket and even old black and white Bollywood movies- things I hardly took interest in during grad school. Moving from Bhakti and Gyana Yogas and Philosophy of the Mind to politics, economics, history or even social affairs like bollywood is similar to a high energy physicist moving to the study of condensed matter physics or many body interactions. As far as I understand, the goal of high energy physics is to understand the interactions between particles at the most fundamental level. On the other hand, in condensed matter physics, they assume that particles interact in a particular way without going deeper into why they interact that way and instead try to find out how such interactions lead to new phenomena when the number of particles and hence complexity of the system goes up. Similarly, instead of just exploring more and more about the nature of the individual self through the study of more eastern and western philosophy, I am trying to assume that the self is whatever my current understanding is of it now and then see how the different self-s interact with each other in a complicated system like politics, economics, justice, world of movies, etc. Just like many body physics, beautiful new phenomena emerge here too at different levels of complexity. And also just like condensed matter physics is more useful to the society than high energy physics in terms of practical applications, study of politics or justice or economics is more useful to the society than philosophy of the mind. As a result, I am currently finding the dumb hippies of my Berkeley gang, obsessed with the self, completely obnoxious and the smart hippies of my Berkeley gang, obsessed with the self, borderline obnoxious.

(Endnote: Between the time of writing this essay and the time of uploading it here, the necessity of marriage to avoid all the paranoia connected to solitude has become more and more obvious to me. Also planning to write something soon here on the Socratic dialogues by Plato, maybe emphasizing on Plato’s theory of forms.)

Essays/ Travelogues/ Poetry/ Ramblings

Notes from Darjeeling: Dec 17-18, 2016

(First composition on return to India after spending 6.5 years in Berkeley, CA)

Hotel room (11 PM, 17th Dec, 2016)

First night all by myself since I left Berkeley. Spent ten days at home in Calcutta. Then took the train to North Bengal by myself while parents stayed over in Calcutta. Been visiting uncles and aunts in North bengal and sleeping at their places so far, got an aunt in Siliguri and one in Jalpaiguri, mom’s sisters, they are my second and third moms basically, met grandparents in uncle’s place,  they are pretty much locked up in a room on the fourth floor of an apartment complex, can’t go anywhere, they sit and watch Bengali serials and cricket on TV and read spiritual books, granddad chants God’s name for an hour everyday with the rudraksh, he had been told that meditation worked in Dwapar Yuga but in Kali Yuga only chanting God’s name works.

Came to Darjeeling today by myself, wanted some solitude up in the mountains, two hours on a window seat of a Tata Sumo from Siliguri, steep ride, Darjeeling, the king of Indian hill stations, quite crowded and touristy, lot of Bengali families, wanted to escape the crowd, do something cooler, feel the temptation to hit the 9 3/4th platform too much these days, so in the afternoon visited a couple of monasteries in Ghoom, eight kilometers from Darjeeling.

The first Ghoom monastery had a huge statue of the Buddha wearing a crown, it was all empty, I had the whole place to myself to meditate lol. Crazy shit happened at the second monastery which made me write this letter pretty much.  As I got out of the first monastery and was walking on the road, I heard chants coming from another monastery, it was near evening, walked into the monastery through a gate, beautiful statue of Buddha, this one without a crown, around thirty people of all ages in monk’s robes, red in colors, sitting with old manuscripts (later figured that’s a Lama script), some playing trumpets, some playing huge percussion instruments, mesmerizing, no one speaks English or Bengali or Hindi or Nepali, a world of its own just a flight of stairs down the main road, sat there for a long time meditating, contemplating, suddenly felt that instead of going solo in my own spiritual quest and telling myself that nothing matters to me I should care more about my parents, my grandparents, my uncles, my cousins, immerse myself in their world, their struggles, try to share their joys and sorrows. I am extremely lucky to receive so much love and there is no need to reject all that in search of some Zen solitude, made a promise to go back to the plains tomorrow and spend more time with them and buy them gifts before I leave for Calcutta in two days (return train already booked).

Turned around and saw that it had gotten dark outside, walked out, the chant was still going on, walked up the stairs towards the gate, a dog and a monk kid started following me, some other dog started barking nearby, realized the big main gate had been locked, they probably thought that there’s no more visitor inside and then realized someone from outside was still there and sent the kid with some keys to open the gate, the kid was struggling to find the right key, the dog came very close to me and started growling mildly, imagine me and a dog and a locked gate with nowhere to go and another dog barking in the background, the kid spoke no language I knew, a few minutes of crazy fear, finally opened the gate, got out, walked an hour in the dark on the mountain road with cars and toy trains and steep slopes without railings to get back to Darjeeling while thinking about the dog incident, no matter how beautiful the monastery was it was their world, an indian or a Bengali or a householder was an outsider there and I got into trouble intruding into their world.

Later went to Mal (Darjeeling’s town center) up the hill, sat in CCD smoking lounge, only place there with unobstructed view of the valley, finally a clear night sky full of stars, first time since Berkeley, the maximum number of stars I counted in India before tonight was around fifteen, that was in Jalpaiguri, spotted only one constellation in Siliguri and Jalpaiguri, in the east, three stars forming a vertical line and one star on each side of it together forming a rhombus, now spotted the same constellation among a million others in Darjeeling’s night sky.

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Started talking to this local guy called Yuvi at the lounge, smoking, drinking coffee,  the servers in CCD were his friends and they were bringing him local brandy in CCD’s coffee cups lol, had a long chat about friendships and relationships and the blurred lines in between, got back to the hotel after dinner, now sitting under a blanket and writing this.

Outdoor cafe at Mal (10 AM, 18th Dec, 2016)

A clear morning, a rare day with bright sunshine in the foggy days of winter,  sitting at a cafe and having coffee and looking down the valley, a couple of hours back I quit the comfort of the blanket and walked outside, very few people at Mal at that hour of the morning, almost no tourists, it’s the cold perhaps, tried to find an unobstructed view of the valley, walked along a road with tall conifers on both sides, came to some kinda observation point with benches painted green, looked up and was amazed by the sight of a gorgeous snow clad peak standing out in the distance with some green peaks of nearby mountains in the foreground, asked a local pointing at the peak, “Yeh Kanchenjungha hai?”, he replied, “Yes” 🙂 🙂 , sat there and meditated for a long time, then took a picture with my smartphone for the sake of this composition.

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The following thought has been coming to me for a while, now after staring at the Buddha last evening and the Kanchenjungha this morning it has taken a more concrete shape, I have definitely found calmness inside, every human being has an access to a void state inside and he is often scared to encounter it, Yuvi said last night that when he is alone he wants to commit suicide, I have become quite comfortable with the void state now but this is addictive, I definitely feel a lethargy to work (do science for example) and just want to sit and contemplate. It feels great but then there are some holes here and there through which the fear of death creeps in- the dog incident last night for example.

(Sounds of “Mehbooba, Mebooba” coming from somewhere down the valley, somebody paragliding up in the sky)

I think the whole idea of spirituality is that one should be led by it naturally without getting addicted to it, that’s where it differs from substances, every step on the path of spirituality should be reversible and that’s why if I lose the ability to pursue a career in science or live a householder’s life like my parents and relatives are doing then it’s not really the path of spirituality or more importantly the path of truth, abilities should be gained and not lost on the right path.

Church close to Mal (1 PM, 18th Dec 2016)

Sunday morning, service going on in Hindi and Nepali, someone playing the violin, someone playing the piano. A few thoughts about Darjeeling- absolutely amazing place, there is a tourist crowd but if you can bypass that, there are entry points into the 9 3/4 th platform on every roadside, ancient Hindu temples, Budhist monasteries, churches and government office buildings from the British era, music all over the place. After visiting the Buddhist monasteries yesterday and a Shiva temple on the top of the hill this morning and observing amazing similarities between their idols, images, decorations, scripts, I realized that Buddhism and Hinduism have kinda merged in the mountains, gotta study on this more once I get back to the plains.

I really don’t feel like leaving Darjeeling so soon, can be here for days by myself, can walk around here for hours and stare at the trees and the buildings and the valley but I made a promise to myself to get back to my relatives by today and spend more time with them before I leave North Bengal, so I gotta take the ride back to Siliguri now, hence goodbye mountains for now, will visit you again soon once I move to Delhi, little hill stations in Himachal Pradesh on weekends, and then Darjeeling again next summer!

(Endnote: Between the time this essay was written and it is being uploaded here, I was able to visit the Himalayas only one more time- 4 days in Shimla end of Jan, 2017. There will be another post on that. Darjeeling has been going through an indefinite shutdown, which has already lasted three months, rendering my chances of visiting the hill station again anytime soon extremely bleak.)

50-s 60-s Bollywood

Movie and songs review: Hum Dono (1961)

(Please don’t expect a conventional review here, like the ones you find in newspapers. This is rather a re-narration of the movie from my perspective. And yes, it is full of spoilers! )

I start my series of reviews with this movie because this is the movie with which my recent streak of watching 50s and 60s Bollywood (The Golden Era of Bollywood) started. The reason I got attracted to this particular movie was the song “Abhi Na Jao Chhor Kar”- a song that has captured my fascination for several years, transcending all musical genres and generations. But before watching this movie I had no idea what the story was about nor who Sahir Ludhianvi was. Now I am equally fascinated with the other songs of the movie, all penned by the legendary Sahir Ludhianvi, and the storyline, hence I am writing this review. Also I shall give particular attention to the songs. Unlike a lot of Bollywood movies where songs are a distraction from the storyline and are just introduced to make the movie sell in box office, the songs are an integral part of the movie here. The mesmerizing lyrics, speaking volumes about the genius of Sahir Ludhianvi, currently my favorite lyricist of that era, converted to perfect melodies by the relatively less known music composer Jaidev, brilliantly picturized by the director Vijay Anand and sung by the legends Mohammad Rafi and Asha Bhonsle, convey the emotions of the characters, move the story forward and most importantly create unforgettable moments throughout the course of the movie.

As the name “Hum Dono” suggests the movie is about two people and their relationship. It is just that unlike the unrealistic, commercial and sometimes self-obsessed “boy meets girl” extravaganza of the 90s’ Bollywood, the movie Hum Dono is about nuanced relationships between multiple people- a boyfriend and a girlfriend, a husband and a wife, a son and his mother, another son and his mother, a daughter and a father and of course two friends turned brothers- Captain Anand and Major Verma, both played by Dev Anand. As cliche as it sounds, it is love which makes an otherwise meaningless life meaningful- both the more pronounced versions of it like that between a mother and a son, and between two lovers or best friends, and the more subtle versions of it like that between colleagues at work or two strangers on the road.  But love is often accompanied by desperation, vulnerability, possessiveness and conflicts of interests as is the case here, and the movie (I guess somewhat unknowingly) becomes a brilliant study of these conflicts, which will be the focus of my review.

There is no dialogue for the first minute or two of the movie, only two of the main characters and the magic lighter are introduced. The heroine Sadhana (playing the role of Meeta) gifts the  lighter to the hero Dev Anand (currently playing the role of Anand). As the hero turns on the lighter, the theme melody of the movie is heard- a sequence that repeats itself throughout the movie, through all thick and thin, without a word spoken about it. Sadhana is about to leave, and the silent sylvan world in the last hours of the day erupts into music with Dev Anand singing to her “Abhi Na Jao Chhor Kar, Yeh Dil Abhi Bhara Nahi”. Can there be a better way to kick off the movie?

Soon we are introduced to the economic backgrounds of the duo. Similar to several other movies of the era, the heroine has a rich father with the mother passed away, and the hero has a poor mother with the father passed away. But there is an added layer of depth to the character of the rich father. Far from being an egotistic individual who surrounds himself with opulence just for the sake of it as in a lot of other Bollywood movies, Meeta’s’s father shows a lot of heart in his limited appearances in the movie. After Meeta’s daughter died while giving birth to Meeta, Meeta’s father converted himself from a guy with a meagre salary of 150 rupees per month to an opulent individual with a palatial house simply for the sake of his daughter. He simply wanted to compensate for the lack of a mother’s love with an excess of comfort- a noble enterprise, given the helplessness of his situation. Though he eventually gives consent to the marriage between Anand and Meeta, his scorn at Anand- “Over the course of your entire life you can’t give her more money than what she spends on each of her birthdays” is too much for Anand to bear. Abandoning his lover and even his poor, lonely mother, Anand leaves for Burma to join the Indian Army. It was the time of World War II.

The setting of the movie shifts next to Burma where Anand, a captain of the Indian army now, is found singing “Hum Zindagi Ke Saath Nibhata Chala Gaya” while carrying out his daily errands. The lyrics of the song and the picturization suggest that he has moved on in life, his mother and his girlfriend, who actually are living together now waiting for him to come back, are some characters in his distant past. The lyrics, though deeply philosophical and borderline spiritual, – “Gham aur khushi mein farq mehsoos ho jahan, Mein dil ko us muqaam pe lata chala gaya” (I am taking my heart to a place where happiness and sadness cannot be distinguished), sound a little escapist, given his circumstances. Perhaps it is not just mere coincidence that spiritual practices are often criticized as escapism by people living in and contributing to the society. That being said, the hardship and trauma that Anand has to witness on the battlefield on a daily basis, is no joke either.

In the land of hatred, he ends up making a best friend and a brother in his look-alike, Major Verma, also played by Dev Anand. Their first encounter has elements of comic relief in an otherwise grave movie. When Major Verma shows him the pictures of his house, his mother and his wife, Captain Anand breaks into a song- “Kabhi Khud Pe Kabhi Halaat Pe Rona Aaya”, completely antithetical in words and mood to the previous song. “Hum to samjhe the ke hum bhool gaya unko, Kya hua aaj yeh kis baat pe rona aaya (I thought that I had forgotten them, then what happened today that I feel like crying”). The words suggest that despite all claims, transcending grief is probably not possible, one can merely distract themselves from the painful memories of their loved ones but under special circumstances the memories resurface in the mind and the heart weeps in pain.

The movie takes a major turn with the apparent death of Major Verma in the battle. In his last moments, he makes Anand promise to him that once he goes back home, he will treat his mother as his own mother and his wife as his own bhavi. After returning home Anand is elated by his union with Meeta but subsequently heartbroken at the news of his mother’s death. Then Anand goes to Major Verma’s house to disclose the news of his death, only to be misidentified as Major Verma himself by Major Verma’s mother, played by Lalita Pawar, and his ailing wife Ruma, played by Nanda. Though he confesses to Mrs. Verma’s doctor that he is not Major Verma but Captain Anand, upon the request of the doctor, he continues to play the role of Major Verma in the house. According to the doctor Ruma has a severe heart disease and won’t be able to accept the news of her husband’s death.

The plot takes several twists and turns after that. Captain Anand soon loses the trust of both Meeta and Ruma. Eventually Major Verma returns from Burma with one leg (he didn’t die in the battle but got captured by the enemies) only to find Anand playing his role in his household and even sleeping in his bedroom with his wife. The drama reaches its climax with Major Verma attempting to shoot Captain Anand but failing. The conflicting natures of different human relationships come out to the fore brilliantly when Anand exclaims that he has treated Verma’s mother like his own mother and in response Verma accuses him that he has treated Verma’s wife like his own wife as well. One is ready to share his mother’s love with his friend but not his wife’s love.- Isn’t it surprising? Ahh, not really! What amuses and intrigues me the most is the fact that there is no attempt in the movie to explain the underlying reason behind the conflicting nature of the two relationships.  Our society wasn’t ready back then and probably isn’t ready now either to openly discuss the role of sex or lack of it in defining relationships. The implications of sex are simply meant to be understood by one and all without a word being spoken about it.

Major Verma confesses to Anand with great anguish that he has ended up developing a lot of insecurity within himself because of getting mutilated in the war. He is afraid that his wife won’t accept him in his present form- again an implicit referral to the role of sex in the relationship. As a result, he has become vulnerable and wanted to kill Anand out of sheer jealousy. Anand comforts him saying that Verma’s wife still looks for Verma’s soul in Anand’s body. To give further evidence of that, he invites Verma to the local temple the next morning.

In a divinely beautiful moment, the next morning at the temple, Verma’s wife Ruma, brilliantly played by Nanda, tells Anand that marriage is between two souls and not two bodies. She will support her husband through all happiness and misery, even if his body is mutilated. The devotion in her words, characteristic of a quintessential Indian wife, is so touching that it perhaps will not be an exaggeration to state that I have tried to remind myself of her words whenever I am haunted by the idea of purposeless of life. Her innocent face and the loyalty in her words indeed delve some purpose into an otherwise purposeless existence. Overwhelmed by his wife’s loyalty towards him and Anand’s treatment of his wife (not for once has Anand come close to her) Major Verma abandons the hide-out behind a temple pillar from where he was following their conversation and gets reunited with his wife, in an extremely emotional moment. Anand’s union with Meeta follows, and the four are soon found enjoying themselves on the green pastures with the theme of the movie playing in the background and the movie ending. A brilliant movie indeed!